Trip Reports (393)

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2013 Trips (30)

Reports on trips taken in 2013.

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2014 Trips (29)

Reports on trips taken in 2014.

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2006 Trips (0)

We apologize, many wonderful trips were taken in 2006, but no trip reports were submitted for posting to the website.

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Reports on trips taken in 2015.

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2016 Trips (42)

Reports on trips taken in 2016.

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2017 Trips (44)

Reports on trips taken in 2017.

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2018 Trips (5)

Reports on trips taken in 2018.

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Tuesday, 20 February 2018 22:53

2018 - Trip Reports - Desert TOADS

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Desert TOADS

by Bob and Sue Jaussaud

The adventure began with a call from Marian Johns: “I know this is last minute, but can you meet us in Baker tomorrow? We are going with the Harders to try and find a cabin we have never seen in theMojave.” Sue and I couldn’t pass up an invitation like that.

A friend of a friend had told Neal and Marian about this wonderful cabin near the Old Dad Mountains and they wanted to find it. We didn’t know that such a thing existed, namely a cabin in the Mojave that Neal and Marian had never seen. We hadn’t heard of it either. Turns out that it does exist and is in fine shape due to the efforts of a jeep club that has adopted it.

The cabin is located near the Brannigan Mine, where gold was discovered in 1905. The mine wasn’t a big producer, but it seems the Herrod family occupied the cabin until the 1970s. Recently the cabin has been adopted by the Desert TOADS, “The Old As Dirt & Sand” jeep club. Many thanks to theTOADS for preserving this unique piece of Mojave history and to Marian for including us in this adventure.      ~ Bob & Sue



Tuesday, 20 February 2018 22:44

2018 - Trip Report - Quartzfest!

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No story but click read more to see the photos

Tuesday, 20 February 2018 22:40

2018 - Trip Report - Kofa Exploration

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KOFA Exploration

By Bill Smith

Two DE members, Bill Powell and Bill Smith, took an off-road trip through the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge in the KOFA Mountain range south of Quartzite on January 21, 2018. They were part of a group of roughly 65 people in 32 vehicles - Ham radio operators and their families - who were attending the annual Quartzfest ham radio event in Quartzite, Arizona. One special highlight of the trip was the discovery of a maintained well that appears to be in the refuge to provide a water source for larger wildlife. Though not a DE activity, one could scarcely tell the difference. This may become a trip offered to DE members in the cool air of winter 2018/2019.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018 22:32

2018 - Trip Report - Black Mountain Area

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Black Mountain Area Trip

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Leader: Nelson Miller Photos from Ken Hemkin, Nelson Miller and Bill & Julie Smith

Sunday after the Museum Work Party, we took off from the Barstow Museum with 5 vehicles and 11 people (Nelson, Ellen, Julia, Ken, Peter & Janet, Bill & Julie, Ron & Barbara, and Jacque). Julia is a grad student working on her doctorate regarding historic and cultural preservation in the Mojave. Jacque is a friend of Barbara’s that we hope will join us on future trips. Thanks to Bill Smith for running tail all day!

This is another trip for which a Giant Thanks is owed to Bill Mann. We visited most of the sites he mentions around Black Canyon in his first book, “Guide to 50 Interesting and Mysterious Sites in the Mojave.” Our first stop was Murphy’s Well, where we explored the petroglyphs and a few historic signatures.

We proceeded on to Inscription Canyon, where we met Sam Hunter, a Museum member dedicated to protecting Black Canyon. He shared his unique views of the meaning behind all the petroglyphs and pointed out some interesting petroglyphs in Inscription Canyon. We had lunch and spent about an hour and a half exploring Inscription Canyon and talking to Sam.

After lunch, we stopped at the Birdman Petroglyph, which Ken had always wanted to see and which Bill Mann indicates was at one time the logo of the American Institute of Archaeology. Below it are three bedrock grinding stones and one the historic “Tillman Signatures” from the 1870’s.

We continued on around Black Mountain to our next stop at Scout’s Cove, where we explored a miner’s dwelling carved into the tufa dome and scouted for opal. Bill Mann reports that the Tiffany Jewelry Company financed mining of fire opal here.

Next stop was Black Canyon Well and a short distance further Black Canyon Stage Stop. Where was the water for the Stage Stop? Another Bill Mann mystery! We saw another Tillman signature here. Both the 20-Mule Teams and a stage line followed this route through Black Canyon. Who was Tillman? More Bill Mann mysteries.

We progressed along our route and found the Spiderman Petrogylph among hundreds of others in the boulder field along the edge of another Black Mountain. A bit further down the road we stopped in the Canyon also filled with petroglyphs, including a stick figure with an atlatl and scrawled modern graffiti, even “E=MC2”. At the end of the day with the sun beginning to set, we headed for home.

Museum Work Party & Black Mountain Visit

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A great big “THANK YOU” to Bob Jaussaud, who first suggested this work party and to all the rest that participated in helping out with the work party at the Mojave River Valley Museum!

Some of the significant contributions from Desert Explorers included:

Bob Jaussaud - worked on replacing light fixtures and installing mule rider

Bill Smith - Worked on replacing light       fixtures, replaced a fan switch in the     library, and installed locks on cases with Germain Moon dolls

Julie Smith - Cleaned and put out Germain Moon dolls

Ellen Miller - Cleaned up yard  debris and helped put out the  Germain Moon dolls

Barbara Midlikoski - helped everywhere all day long

Ken Hemkin - helped with lights, assembled mule train pieces, and helped install the lead mule rider

Nelson Miller - organized tasks and helped with lights, Germain Moon doll cases, mule train assembly and installation, and clean up.

There were also eight volunteers from the Museum that contributed throughout the day, including: Jesse and Peggy Byrd who worked in the yard cleaning and sprucing it up, Cliff Walker and Marjorie planted plants in our Pollinator Garden, Dave Mott was there to help, Dian Hare helped wherever she could and did the Sandwich Run for lunch, and Katie Boyd and Pat Schoffstall worked at organizing donated items.

Pat Schoffstall, from the Museum, reports that so many things got done!  Germain Moon’s Kachina Doll Collection and the dolls Germain researched and made representing numerous Native American tribes are a big hit - people have been oohing and aahing over them since they have been put on display. They are beautiful and Julie and Ellen did a fantastic job of putting them on display after Bill made sure the cases could be locked and secure. All of us at the Museum and Germain’s two sons, Dennis and Bert, are pleased beyond words.  These were crowded into a free-standing case, but the Museum is going to move them into one of the large window cases.

The Germain Moon Dolls are really an amazing collection and everyone should stop by the Museum and check them out when you have a chance.

 Hello all you Wonderful People -

Words cannot express our appreciation for what you did for us last Saturday, but I’ll try.

Nelson told me the original idea for a workday came from Bob Jaussaud.

OK Bob, that makes you my hero - it was a terrific idea and it was carried out with style and grace and good humor and lots of elbow grease.

Things were taken care of that we hadn’t been able to take care of and now we have lights and circulating air and a cleaner yard and new displays both inside and outside.

Germain Moon’s dolls are a big hit - people have been oohing and aahing over them all week. They are beautiful and Julie and Ellen did a fantastic job of putting them on display after Bill made sure the cases could be locked and secure. All of us and Germain’s two sons Dennis and Bert are pleased beyond words.

So many things got done and I won’t list them all because I fear I would forget something and embarrass myself.

Some of the biggies are:

Bob worked on lights and helped install the first mule rider in the yard

Bill worked on lights and a fan switch and installed locks on the

display cases for Germain’s dolls

Julie cleaned up in the yard and worked on Germain’s dolls

Ellen worked in the yard and on Germain’s dolls

Barbara helped everywhere all day long

Ken helped with the lights, helped with assembling the rest of the mule train, and helped install the first mule rider

Nelson - what can I say about Nelson? He is here almost every week helping us anywhere and everywhere

Jesse and Peggy Byrd worked in the yard cleaning and sprucing it up

Cliff Walker and Marjorie planted plants in our Pollinator Garden

Dave Mott was here to help

Dian Hare helped wherever she could and did the Sandwich Run for lunch

Katie Boyd was here like she is almost every day of every week. This place would fall apart without her.

I’m a little old-school and writing a “Thank You” via email goes against my grain, but Nelson assures me that no one, with the exception of myself, thinks negative thoughts about it.

I hope he is right.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart -


Monday, 12 February 2018 21:46

2017 - Trip Report - Salton Sea Whimsy

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Salton Sea Whimsy

by Sue Jaussaud

“Whimsy…a fanciful device or creation, especially in art.” Well, that pretty much describes the places Bob and I recently visited in the Salton Sea area. Our first stop was at the International Banana Museum (“The Most A-Peeling Place on Earth”) near tiny North Shore. The museum is just one large room, but it’s delightful… and delicious. There is a nominal admission charge, which is waived if you buy something, and you really, really want to enjoy one of their chocolate banana shakes. While whipping them up, the owner told us the story of the museum’s origin. And when his wife saw me taking Bob’s photo, she popped up from behind the counter wearing, what else, a banana costume. Display cases line the walls, full of more banana related items than you ever knew existed. Take a look on line, and call first to be sure they’re open. Then go bananas!

Our second stop was “East Jesus”, near Slab City, east of Niland. Amazing folk art lives here, created from the flotsam and jetsam of a trash pile. And it’s wonderful! Enter through a metal arch decorated with bicycles and propane bottles, and move on to the bottle wall, giant lizard, decorated cars, and TV wall. The creations go on and on, and you are free to walk around and take pictures. Nice folks here, too. I do love the desert, and finding this stuff is just the best!  ~ Sue

(Click Read More to see the photo album)

Monday, 12 February 2018 21:16

2017 -Trip Report- Report of an unofficial" DE trip

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Report of an unofficial DE trip

By Anonymous.

The Jaussauds invited two couples to join them at their Colorado River shore home for a fun three day holiday. It was at the end of September and the weather could not have been more perfect. However, as you read my report of this most peculiar trip you will see why I do not name the invited couples, so as to save them embarrassment.

The DE members know me and know that I am a staid quiet and less than talkative, serious person, but I need to reveal some information about our guests to DE. I was designated to write the trip report; I suspect so, as usual, the DE members would pick on me.

My wife, Ruth, and I arrived at their gated private river road on the east side of the river across from Needles, California about midday and was I surprised. As I toured their property, I found that it was a large lot with four modern garage buildings. DE members know that Bob is retired from the entertainment industry and this was obvious as I saw what he and Sue have done with their place. They have saved a variety of desert treasures, including two trucks that had run down a bit but had been resurrected.

Before the other couple arrived, Bob and Sue took us on an old desert road north to a dilapidated and very old town where Bob was shopping for more desert treasures. There were a lot of cars and people, as well as a large local population of burros who seemed to have the right of way. As we tried to walk they kept getting in my way and trying to intimidate me into feeding them. Further on, we were shown some old mines. One was the Gold Roads Mine where my grandfather lost his right arm. Also, we were shown some of the old Historic Beale Road and many other old interesting sites.

After coming back to the river and the bunk house, we had a large pot luck dinner with the other couple, who had arrived while we were gone. Everyone, except me, worked together preparing the repast. I preserved my male image by not being in the kitchen. Their composite dinner was culinary art. They made me eat too much, I was just trying to be polite.

The next day was the boat trip. Six of us started down the river. There were hundreds of other very active boats going both ways and they stirred the river up until sometimes it was as if we were on the high seas. My wife and Allan laid back up front in the luxurious seats and were quite happy and smiling not even noticing that I was getting slapped in the face by the occasional extra high thrashing waves.

The beautiful verdant wild growth crowded the water in many places as we traveled toward our goal, the Topoc Gorge. Along the miles there were Indian lands and Wild Life Preserves. We were amazed, seeing majestic Blue Heron and other migrant fowl amongst the ever present forest of green reeds crowding the sometimes invisible shore line. There were many exposed beaches where hundreds of families were camped; tents, campers and beached boating parties all apparently having a wonderful time creating a spirit of hilarity. All that, along with the invigorating clear river air, I believe was what caused the ladies in our group to become wild and uncontrollable and eventually causing me much embarrassment.

Sue and Ding had driven down to the boat landing and resort at Topoc to meet us. We landed there and, as a group, we got to see the greatly improved facility there with all kinds of refreshments, restaurant and so forth, a grand place. That’s when it happened. The ladies started acting like free spirits and not cherishing their clothing, becoming somewhat audacious. And after they were persuaded to try to behave, to little avail, we later caught them holding the big door open to the men’s restroom so as to photograph the row of salacious urinals there.

Having some luck corralling the ladies, we all proceeded on down the river, passing under the marvelous bridges that accommodate tremendous auto and train traffic, as well as several major interstate gas transmission lines that cross above the river. One of our major national arteries.

We then moved on into the Topoc Gorge. A majestic place where the river goes through the gigantic towering geological mountain formations. The town of Needles, California up river from there is named for them. It was awesome, grotesque dark brown soaring rock formations routing the river this way and that with often a menacing barren rock shoreline giving the impression we were imprisoned by these very ancient mountains. Along the way the river spilled off into canyons, secret reed lined waterways disappearing into a wild rugged country. Captain Bob took the boat off into one. It was profusely lined with reeds and river plants that crowded our passage and then it opened into a private majestic lagoon and he stopped the engine. We were alone and away from the turmoil of the crowd on the river. It was a splendid interlude, though we were alarmed when the captain pretended at first that the super Hi-Tech engine wouldn’t restart.

We then rejoined the crowded river that flows on to Yuma, eventually to the Ocean. But we turned about to return to Jaussaud’s landing. We left Ding and Sue off at the Topoc landing; I don’t know how they conducted themselves thereafter. The return trip seemed to be a survival exercise; I was thankful that our Captain was brave and skillful. As we sped toward the numerous boats violently whipping the river into a frenzy it was as if we were traveling across the virgin desert in a large dunebuggy. Thankful that the boat was strong enough to withstand the contest, though Bob seemed a bit battered when we landed at the Jaussaud’s landing.

After resting a while and Bob having recovered, Ding, Allan, Bob and I decided to visit the Needles Museum just across the river from their place but no one was there to let us in. So, after driving around seeing the town that economic times has changed drastically we returned to the bunkhouse. Then the Jaussaud’s embarrassed me again. They called Cheryl Mangin, the woman who is the matriarch of the Museum, and invited her to come to our pot luck dinner that night even though it was her day off. Sue said she planned to impose on Cheryl to open the museum on Sunday just for us. Cheryl came to our dinner and appeared to be enthused (She might have been feigning it). They all laughed and carried on and Sue got Cheryl to agree to open just for us on Sunday.

Ding and Allan had to leave early the next morning but Ruth and I and Bob and Sue did go to the museum. After all, we had imposed on beautiful Cheryl. I do have to admit it was a very worthwhile visit. Anyone traveling to Needles will be rewarded to go there. There are many wonders there and many great historical artifacts. The Jaussaud’s have donated many items that are there to enjoy, including a large operating Erector Set Ferris Wheel (assembled by Captain Bob).

Monday, 12 February 2018 21:07

2017 - Christmas Party

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Holiday Fiesta at Ding and Allan Wicker’s House!

I t’s possible you had an excuse for not making the Desert Explorers holiday gathering at the home of Ding and Allan Wicker, but it couldn’t have been a very good one. You must plan better next year. The folks who did make it were treated to great food, happy people, a festive day and some twisted fun with the “bring a gift, get a gift, steal a gift” game.

We kicked the gathering off with the shortest DE meeting on record, less than 25 minutes! There were wonderful      dishes, savory, sweet, local, international, hot, cold and in-between. Nobody went hungry and everybody found things to satisfy their cravings.

Regardless of folks’ backgrounds or traditions, it is always a wonderful way to wrap up the year. Warm greetings, friendly faces, good food and a wacky game to loosen things up made this a wonderful afternoon.

Who was there? Bob Jacoby, Bob and Sue Jaussaud, Nan Healy, Jean and Sunny Hansen, Julie and Bill Smith, Kate Fosselman and Steve Jarvis, Neal and Marian Johns, Ruth and Emmett Harder, Bobby Sanchez and Daniel Dick, Jim Watson and his sweetheart Linda, Ann Yibing Bai, Marie and Nelson Miller, Ellen Miller, Dave McFarland, Axel Heller, Jay Lawrence, Bruce Bartlett, Dolly and Jerry Dupree, Nancy Maclean and Ron Ross, Vicki Hill, Genmarie Wentworth, and our hosts Ding and Allan Wicker.

Thank you Ding and Allan for having us again this year. It was big fun!

Click Read More for photos

Sunday, 11 February 2018 19:08

2017 - Trip Report - Hiking in the Calico Mountains

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Hiking in the Calico Mountains

Odessa Canyon and the Doran Scenic Loop

Text & photos by Danny Siler

I n January 2015 Nelson Miller led a four-wheel drive trip to the Calico Mountains. At our lunch stop atop the rim of a canyon, he pointed down and announced “that’s Odessa Canyon down there!” It was deep and narrow - my kind of place. Ever since then I’ve wanted to hike through there. It was easy to find on a topo map and finally I got my wish.

The Calico Mountains are well known for all the colors, shades of colors and blends of colors; vermilion, copper green, orange, brown, saffron yellow, maroon, and violet. And much geologic fascination from fault lines, folding, slate and schist. 

After mining ceased, Odessa Canyon was joined with the former Bismarck Canyon and renamed Doran Scenic Loop after a county supervisor in the 1930s. The massive Bismarck site is located on this route. This is home to at least a hundred adits, mine shafts and glory holes. With rappelling gear one could go all the way down into the bottom of a shaft.

Wildlife I encountered along the trail were lizards, a hawk, jack rabbit, a couple of desert rats, and one dead tarantula; but no snakes. Occasionally I saw some animal tracks and I believe they were coyote.

Being out there in the desert with no other humans provides solitude and the ability to imagine how the early miners, explorers, and settlers would have endured living and working in this environment. I enjoyed being out of the car and traveling on foot - close to nature, the dirt, all the sizes and shapes of colorful rocks, and the sound of the crunch underfoot.

ATV tracks abound at the bottom of the canyon but I don’t understand how they do it. This was definitely the most rugged canyon floor I’ve ever seen. But no foot steps. I was here mid-week and had the mountains to myself. On a weekend I could envision more folks coming to Calico for camping, off-road driving, and target shooting for the gun enthusiasts.

On foot, once I left the car, I hiked the loop, stopped at many mines, explored side canyons, and was back to my car in about four hours.

Odessa Canyon begins at Calico Road about halfway between the Ghost Town and Mule Canyon Rd. Drive the car about a half-mile in, park, and get out and start walking.

I think a topo map is helpful. About three years ago the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) made all their topo maps available free on the internet. I like I can zoom in-or-out; create a pdf with latitude and longitude, and print on 8 1/2” by 11” paper. Carrying a hand-held GPS device is nice also.

For an encore I returned late in the afternoon, drove my car uphill on an ATV track as far as I could and hiked to the top of a hill. From this vantage point I had 180 degree view of all the Calico Mountains. The sun set behind me which turns everything golden and cast long shadows for what my wife Norma  calls “magic hour.”

I stayed overnight at the Oak Tree Inn in Yermo and enjoyed dinner at Peggie Sue’s diner.                ~ Danny

Sunday, 11 February 2018 18:02

2017 - October 2 Generel Meeting

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Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes

Saturday, October 2, 2017

Attending Bob Jacoby (Chair), Alan and Ding Wicker, Dave McFarland, Barbara Midlikowski, Neal and Marian Johns, Emmett and Ruth Harder, Nelson Miller, Bobbie Sanchez and Daniel Dick, Bill and Julie Smith, Mal Roode, Terry and Eileen Ogden.

Regrets Nan Healy and Jay Lawrence.

Minutes Accepted as published.

Treasurer Bill Smith provided the Treasurer’s Report. He announced that the DE cash balance is $4,572. We have 86 paid members and there have been two new members since the last meeting. There have been no expenditures since the last meeting. Bob Jacoby noted that a check needs to be written for $425 as a security deposit for renting the 2018 Rondy facilities. The check will not be cashed and will be returned to us at the end of the Rondy. Bill also indicated that it may be better to have new and renewing members make just one payment to cover the DE newsletter dues and the annual membership for MRVM. He will investigate this possibility with MRVM.

Newsletter Bob Jacoby gave Jay Lawrence’s report. Jay reports the monthly newsletter is functioning fine. There is a need for backup and we always need more input from our membership each month. This can be trip reports, tech reports, etc.

2018 Rendezvous Bob Jacoby and Jerry Dupree gave an update on Rondy planning. The dates in Ridgecrest are April 6-8. We will be utilizing the facilities at the Fairgrounds in Ridgecrest. Full hookups, tent camping and nearby motels will be available. We arranged for a caterer, and a Saturday evening guest speaker. We hope to have petroglyph tours conducted by the museum on both Saturday and Sunday. We will need volunteer leaders for other trips on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Website There was no report as Debbie was unable to attend.

Museum Barbara Midlikowski gave an update on some activities regarding the museum. She will take items to the upcoming Museum rummage sale. She also discussed the Death Valley 49ers annual Rendezvous coming up soon. She indicted the national park has cut back on their maintenance program and many campgrounds are closed. Also, the Furnace Creek remodel is still going on.

Trip Schedule Several upcoming trips, scheduled and unscheduled, were discussed:

  • • On November 4th Nelson Miller is leading a trip starting in Daggett and traversing to the Calico Mountains.
  • • Nelson will be leading a second trip on December 2 in the Mojave near the San Bernardino mountains.
  • • Neil and Marian Johns, with assistance from others, will be leading a trip on Segment 1 of the Mojave Heritage Trail. The trip will be in February.
  • • Emmett and Ruth Harder, with assistance from others will be leading a tour of Death Valley in early 2018.
  • • Emmett will also lead a trip to the Butte Valley in Death Valley. He will likely be assisted by Matt Jones.
  • • Gerry Dupree will lead a trip on the Overland Stage Route in the Anza Borrego area. This trip will be in the early spring.
  • • Bill Powell will be leading a tour of the Hastings Cutoff route in late spring or early summer. The trip will begin near Wendover, Nevada and end in Elko, Nevada. It will be a three day trip.
  • • Bob Jacoby is planning to lead a trip on Route 66 across Arizona and on into California, ending in Victorville.
  • • Nelson Miller announced a trip he is planning to Sequoia National Monument to visit various groves. The trip will start in Lake Isabella and will be on Forest Service roads.

New Business: The next meeting will be in conjunction with the annual Christmas party and will be on December 16th at the Wicker’s in Claremont.

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